Posted on November 3, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Cleveland Indians have nothing to be ashamed of following their narrow loss in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series to the Chicago Cubs, who have won their first championship in 108 years. Despite taking a 3-1 series lead and having three chances to close out the series and capture their first world championship since 1948, the Indians should be proud of their performance during the postseason and not at all ashamed that they were beaten by a team who was just a little bit better.
After missed opportunities to close out the series in Game 5 and 6, a lesser team would have quit after falling behind 5-1 in Game 7 when their ace couldn’t deliver on short rest. But the Indians didn’t, they fought back to tie the game 6-6 and force extra innings. A lesser team would have quit after giving up two runs in the top of the 10th, but the Indians didn’t. They scratched out a run and even put the tying run on base in the bottom of the 10th, fighting until the very end against the team that was the best in baseball from start to finish in 2016.
“I couldn’t be more proud of every guy in this room,” said closer Cody Allen in a heartbroken Indians clubhouse after Game 7. “That’s going to probably be looked at as one of the greatest World Series of all time. It absolutely stinks right now, but we didn’t go out there and beat ourselves. We just got beat by a really good team.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona called Game 7 “An incredible game to be part of.” He also gave his team the highest of compliments, saying, “They tried until there was nothing left.”
Even with a 3-1 series lead, the odds were always stacked against the Indians. Injuries to Carlos Carassco and Danny Salazar left the Indians short handed in their starting rotation, forcing Francona to use a pitcher on short rest in the final four games of the World Series, including Corey Kluber, who pitched both Game 4 and Game 7 on short rest. After a brilliant postseason that one could almost call Bumgarner-esque, Kluber just didn’t have enough in the tank in Game 7 while making his second straight start on short rest.
“I just made some mistakes,” Kluber lamented after the game. But none of his teammates were pointing the finger at him, knowing that without Kluber the Indians would not have been playing in Game 7 with a chance at winning the World Series.
“There is nothing for us to hang our heads about,” said Jason Kipnis, a Chicago native, who lingered in the dugout to watch the Cubs celebrate as the rest of his teammates quickly receded into the clubhouse. “We overcame every single thing they could throw at us. We had injuries. We had you name it, and not once did we use it as an excuse. All we did was put our noses to the ground and kept fighting. We took a very good ballclub to extra innings of Game 7 of the World Series, so I don’t think I’ll be hanging my head for too long. I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We fought all year. We fought all game.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon even took time during his postgame press conference to praise the Indians. “I want to congratulate Cleveland. The Indians and (Francona). It’s a difficult moment I know for them, but they are outstanding,” Maddon said. “Looking at it from my perspective, really evenly matched teams that play the game the same way. A lot of passion about it. A lot of respect for the game itself.”
Even with the loss, the Indians will take some solace in winning the AL Central and advancing much further in the postseason than most predicted. Cleveland should also know that, much like the Cubs, the Indians are well set up for sustained success beyond this season. As Kipnis noted after the game, “We’ll be back.”